Captain Fresh grows international footprint with acquisition of CenSea

Captain Fresh CEO Utham Gowda
Captain Fresh CEO Utham Gowda | Photo courtesy of Matrix India
6 Min

Captain Fresh, an online trading marketplace based in Karnataka, India, has expanded into the U.S. frozen seafood market with the acquisition of CenSea, one of the countrys largest shrimp importers.

Northbrook, Illinois, U.S.A.-based CenSea markets a variety of seafood items from nearly 25 countries to a diverse array of customers, including restaurant chains, foodservice distributors, retailers, and wholesalers. It has grown its revenue from USD 300 million (EUR 277 million) in 2017 to USD 350 million (EUR 323 million) in 2023. 

By combining our talents, experience, and market presence with an international seafood player like Captain Fresh, we will enhance the overall experience for our customers, CenSea Co-President Nate Torch said in a press release. I am proud of what CenSea has accomplished as a family-owned enterprise. We now move forward with a united team and a common goal to continue building an industry-leading resource for our loyal customers, as well as to provide growth opportunities to our loyal global supply partners.

Established in 2019, Captain Fresh is an online platform that matches seafood providers with retailers, offering seafood purveyors facilitation of e-auctions for sourcing, standardization of seafood supply, securement of on-time payments, and use of digital traceability systems in its operations.

It has expanded rapidly across India and has raised more than USD 100 million (EUR 93 million) in a series of funding rounds, including USD 25 million (EUR 23 million) earlier in February 2024 from a group of investors that included the U.K.-government-backed British International Investment (BII) and Nekkanti Seafoods Group, one of India’s largest shrimp exporters.

Captain Fresh’s ongoing Series C funding round already snagged investments from SBI Investment, Evolvence Capital, Tiger Global, Prosus, Accel, and Matrix Partners India and valued the company at more than USD 500 million (EUR 461 million), according to the Economic Times of India.

Captain Fresh CEO Utham Gowda said the capital would fuel an expansion into international markets, accomplished via acqusitions and an expansion of its supply chain in Southeast Asia.

The funds will primarily be used to expand Captain Freshs operations in the U.S. and European markets, Gowda said. We expect to become fully vertically integrated in these markets and evolve from being just an exporter to also distributing on our own." 

Captain Freshs purchase of CenSea, made through an all-cash deal, combines its unparalleled technological advances across the seafood value chain, coupled with multi-species, multi-origin sourcing capabilities,” along with CenSeas robust and strategic distribution network, Captain Fresh said in a release.

The merged entity is poised to deliver exceptional value to their customers and supply partners, it said. With this acquisition, Captain Fresh marks their first significant foray into the lucrative U.S. seafood distribution market. As Captain Fresh expands into geographies outside the U.S., CenSea will become a truly global brand by building on their excellence in seafood distribution to additional geographies around the world, especially Europe and the Middle East.

Previously, Captain Fresh entered negotiations to acquire Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.A.-based Beaver Street Fisheries in September 2022, but the deal was never consummated, according to Mint.

In September 2023, Gowda said Captain Fresh made a decision to ... 

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